Dart woos trendy hotelier


A San Francisco-based hotel chain, famous for its trendy restaurants, has signed up to manage Dart Realty’s new US$170 million hotel on Seven Mile Beach. 

The Kimpton hotel, which hasn’t been named, will open at the site of the former Courtyard Marriott on West Bay Road in 2016, developers said on Wednesday. 

With 263 rooms and 56 residencies, the hotel, which was described as “boutique-style”, will be among the biggest in the Cayman Islands.

Dart Realty acquired the site for the project from developer Stan Thomas in 2011.* 

The former hotel has been 
demolished and a new 10-storey building is being constructed in its place. The developer said Wednesday that the project would generate more than 400 jobs during the “build-out” phase. 

The finished hotel will include five restaurants and lounges, indoor and outdoor meeting spaces and a cascading oceanfront pool and spa, according to a news release from Dart Realty. 

Every room will have sweeping ocean views and the resort will feature six beachfront bungalows. Dart Realty considered alternative offers from “many major brands” before opting for Kimpton, according to the release. The deal has been in the works for some time with former Premier McKeeva Bush dropping the chain’s name as the likely brand for the property in a speech last November. 

Ken Hydes, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, welcomed the news on Wednesday, saying, “This is great news for the tourism sector and we look forward in the coming months to learn more about the plans for this property and all the opportunities it will present in elevating our offerings in the Cayman Islands.” 

A defining characteristic of the Kimpton brand is its celebrity-chef driven restaurants and distinctive, eco-friendly designs. The company boasts quirky touches aimed at modern travellers, including a yoga-mat in every room and free bicycle rentals, according to its website. 

The company markets itself as restful, tasteful and playful. 

The website boasts: “Kimpton puts the fun back in travel by seeing to it that you’re inspired by our playful touches and feel cared for in every sense of the word.  

“We have stylish boutique hotels so comfortable that you’ll be tempted to hang around long after the purpose of your trip. The chefs, wine experts and mixologists at our restaurants are super cool in our eyes. Sorta like rock stars.” 

Kimpton’s hotels usually have their own individual names and are in the four-star range. No details of a planned pricing structure for the Cayman hotel were released this week. A double room at the company’s Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco runs to US$329 for one night. 

Jackie Doak, chief operating officer of Dart Realty, said, “Kimpton excels in offering stylish yet comfortable hotels and providing genuine, unscripted guest experiences. We were particularly drawn to Kimpton’s passion for creating a vibrant atmosphere in hotels and restaurants equally enjoyed by guests and locals. 

“Ken Dart’s vision is for a welcoming resort that showcases the same Caymanian hospitality that inspired him and his family to return to the island after their first visit more than 25 years ago.” 

The hotel chain, which has 62 hotels in the US, is in the midst of an expansion plan that will see it almost double in size. The Grand Cayman project will be its first foray overseas, though a development in London is also being discussed. 

Cindy Brewster, Kimpton’s director of international sales, told an industry forum in April, “A lot of these will be takeovers of existing properties. We’ll come in quietly, give it a nip, tuck and a facelift and relaunch. We have five or six of these in process now. We also have the Cayman Islands on our horizons, which would be a ground up build, which is less usual for us.” 

Dart Realty also confirmed on Wednesday that Miami-based SB Architects would partner with John Doak Architecture on the hotel design. Landscape architect, ESDA, will design the grounds, which will include a 26-acre nursery featuring endemic trees and plants.


Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from the original.


An aerial view shows the site where the new Kimpton hotel will be built.


  1. Ken Dart is sure giving Cayman a face lift, and a good one too. Many things I like about this group, one is that they do not do anything, Chaka chaka meaning their work is always exceptionally good. Two, they are always accommodating the Island people, and three, they surely love trees and plants. This is very good keeping the earth alive around the concrete structures.

  2. Mr. Dart does that mean we can still camp or will there be new restrictions i.e. no tarpolans, no camp fires, no dominoes, no music, etc….as a guest at the trendy hotel, I would believe it would be a bit noisy around Easter?

  3. This will surely be a high point on SMB, with the special touches Dart tends to put into their projects you can bet this place will be rivaled by the other hotels in the area. It’s really gratifying to see some of the long awaited projects starting to get off the ground which will add a needed boost to the economy and put folks to work. The Shetty Hospital is moving along quickly and hopefully the CEZ will get a move on, I’d also like to see that idea of the Golfing Village in the East materialize. Hopefully we will also hear something about plans for the Dump soon and it just doesn’t get pushed under the rug again. I think the new government was hoping to be able to borrow more money to do deal with this, but with the UK saying no to that and the BT Facility squashed, I am highly concerned that it will go on just the way it is and jeopardize all the other positive things that are happening. At this point dealing with Mount Trashmore should be one of the highest priorities if not the highest. That place is a disaster waiting to happen.

  4. Hugh,

    Can I come to camp in your front yard with few dozen of my friends, play loud music and dominos all night and day and leave litter around for a few days?

    That property has always been private but no one said anything so people felt as if they had the right to do as they pleased, which they did not and still do not have the right to do.

    I cannot go climb the same mango trees I climbed when I was a boy. Why? Because the land was cleared and now developed with apartments on it. How foolish would it be for me to protest that? The land owner owns the land. I was a trespasser that was allowed to do my thing for a while but no longer. So it go.

    I once had a Caymanian landowner threaten to shoot me if I trepassed on his land again. Was I in the wrong? Yes. Did I go back? No.

    Dart will probably never take action against anyone who trespasses as it will be bad PR for him but know you are getting off easy and know you are in the wrong if you are asked kindly to remove yourself from the property.

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